Last Tuesday I gave a Still Life Demonstration up at the Glenview Art League. Given the Limited amount of time, it was a challenge to finish a painting and answer the viewers questions at the same time.
Because of this I thought I'd post the demo and talk a bit about what I was thinking during the process and to hopefully give more incite to those who attended and perhaps share new info to those who did not attend. This also gives me a chance to learn from my own experience as well.
I began the painting with a color wash. not necessarily in transparent washes though in parts they were used but also with a bit of thicker paint. My focus was in getting the abstract shapes down using color and value. I was not thinking about edges at this time only to keep everything soft in the beginning. I was anticipating sharpening edges up by carving things out using the background or adjacent shapes. * Note there are lots of ways to start a painting, given the time limitations and what I wanted to accomplish this seemed the best way to begin.
Once I got the initial abstract pattern in I began working on drawing, that is carving things out as a sculptor would, not using line to guide me but thinking of the shapes at they met each other. I also used some highlights ( the shapes of the highlights) to guide my drawing.
In this painting I started on the large pot because it was an easy shape that I knew I could get right as apposed to say the grapes or flowers that are far more difficult to see the overall shapes.
At this point as I was carving out the shape of the pot I thought about each edge of the pot as it met the cloth or grapes. I squinted down to see the relationship of the pot to the edges around it, and painted that relationships as I saw it at a squint.
I then moved to the grapes. As I had already done a color wash there was not much to do to make the initial wash begin to look like a cluster of grapes. The value and color were already there and rather then spending countless amounts of time "rendering" each grape, I only needed to pull out a few grapes causing the eye to read the abstract shape as a whole cluster.
To make some of the grapes pop out even more, I painted the shapes around them. The cloth and shadow pattern helped to define a few grapes and started to really read well at a distance.
As I moved along to the flowers, I noticed that in order for them to read well I had to paint the leaves and shadow pattern on the side of the pot to make the simple design of the flowers read accurately. I had mentioned several times during the demo that I was trying to paint these shapes simply, not getting wrapped up into what things are but painting only a few strokes and then letting your eye fill in the rest. Its amazing what your eye will interpret, I think because we are visual people, we see things everyday we know what things are, all our eye needs is a hint of what things are and our minds eye fills in the rest. Isn't that amazing.
If I were to continue on this painting a bit more I would still keep things simple. The little cup on the right perhaps a few more strokes in the light and maybe a few strokes along the edges of the shadow pattern.
That was it, I know it has helped me to write about the small demo and I hope you enjoyed it as well. I find repetition of information to be so helpful in getting it to stick in your brain.